You must be excited about the Royal Albert Hall show tonight... Should fans expect any special guests or surprises, or will you approach it like any other Porcupine Tree show?
Steven Wilson: "Well, neither in a way. We're not having any special guests. The show is all about the band really. We didn't want to turn it into a sort of 'lovey' fest, you know, bringing out guests and stuff. But what we did want to do is surprise people with the selection of material, so we're playing a lot of music that we have never played – or that we have certainly not played for 10 years or more.
"I think that Porcupine Tree are one of those bands that people discover - new fans discover us with every album and they tend to go back and explore this extensive back catalogue, so they do get to hear a lot of music that we – for many years – haven't played. So I think the idea with this special show and the one we did in New York a few weeks ago was to go back and pull out a lot of material from the early, early days that perhaps people would never expect that they would get to hear us play live.
"So it's certainly not 'another show' for us, apart from the fact it's a London show so all our friends and family will come too so that always makes it a little bit more special. And a little bit more stressful 'cause you know the one show you don't wanna trip over your guitar lead or fall flat on your face or break a string is when you're playing in front of all your friends and family. So there's that extra level anyway, but also the fact that we're playing all of this music that almost seems like a lifetime ago in a way.
"We were playing this stuff in the '90s in small clubs sometimes to 20, 30 people so it's kind of surreal to be playing it in front of four or five thousand people. That music's never been in heard in that context before. And I'm happy to say it it does work; it fills the space. In a way I was thinking in terms of 'stadium rock' (laughs) even when I was playing to 10 people. The music was always kind of designed, in a way, to be big and epic."
Gavin Harrison was recently voted the third greatest drummer of the last 25 years by Rhythm Magazine readers, what is he like to work with?Gavin's amazing. Gavin's the musician of the band, in the sense that none of us are really what you'd call… none of us are technically... I mean, I don't even know the names of the chords I play, you know, so it's a very intuitive kind of approach to music and it's more about for me, you write the song, and then you do what's needed for the song.
"Gavin's whole thing is the about the craft of being a musician and how can he find new ways to approach the art of playing drums in a rock band which is a very established, and some might say, very kind of generic form, so he's always about breaking those patterns. Quite literally.
"That's very inspiring because I write songs with a kind of 'dang dong dang' standard kind of beat and Gavin comes in and says, 'Well how about if we displace this and try this?', and then suddenly the music shifts into a more interesting area and I love that because I'm all about trying to avoid being generic, and he is too, so we kind of really bond on that level.
"He's also an extraordinary technician. His timing is perfect and it really makes you raise your own game to another level; it's not enough to just to go on stage and play sloppy rock 'n' roll guitar. You've gotta be on the case; pretty on the nail with timing and everything. But you know that whole thing about Gavin being voted... he's better than the guys that were above him there's no question, but it's all about fan power.
"Joey Jordison is not better than Gavin, I'm sorry. I'm sure he's a good drummer but he's not better…Those polls are kind of silly in a way. I mean Gavin would be the first person to tell you there's people who have got hardly any votes in those polls that are better than him and that he looks up to. People like Steve Gadd, you know. Those competitions are sort of popularity contest. Who has the most fans on Facebook? No surprise it was Joey Jordison."
What's next for you and the band? Will you be spending time on new projects such as the reported collaboration with Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth)?
"Yes, I've got three new records all in various states of progress at the moment. The first one is a new solo record which is a very diverse, eclectic record. I've got lots of guest musicians on the CD, everything from death metal to almost… film music to huge, long prog rock things, industrial all mixed up you know; it's sort of a users' guide to all of my different styles.
"Then I have the next record with my project Blackfield which is a collaboration with an Israeli musician/songwriter, and then the third record is the one with Mikael, which is finally in progress after 10 years of talking about it. We finally got down to it in March. There's no time pressure in that sense because it's not like anyone's working to a deadline on this record. You know we've been talking about it for 10 years so we're going to take our time and make sure it's exactly what we want it to be.
"It's a very experimental record, it's going to blow a few minds. It's not what people expect. There's no metal on it, it's not orchestral. [There are] very experimental, long pieces of music... almost theatrical in a way, it's something we're both very excited about we're both very proud of what we've done so far. So yeah, the next year for me is really about studio work, and then maybe get together with the 'Tree again this time next year start thinking about the next stage, the next level."